Basics of a Photography Contract

Photo by: Jennifer Trovato

Photo by: Jennifer Trovato

Any provider of services, especially those that aren’t provided immediately at the time of hire should have a binding photography contract outlining the terms of both your and your client’s expectations. Outlining the terms of the relationship not only protects both parties but it ensures that you get paid and can collect if there is a problem. Most importantly for the growth of your business, taking out the element of surprise results in a satisfying experience.

Happy clients are happy to refer your services.

What is a contract?

A contract is an agreement with specific terms between 2 or more persons or entities (parties) where there is a promise to do something (performance) in exchange for something of value (consideration).


What should be in a photography contract?

The 5 Ws and 1 H, or 6 Ws, we learned in high school English. (I went to an international school abroad but I’m sure we learned the same things.)

Who, what, when, where, why, how.

If you are a wedding photographer, the “why” would likely be obvious so we’ll focus on the other questions.


Checklist of Basic information Recommended in a Photography Contract

* This is not an exhaustive list and is offered merely for educational purposes to get you started.

Whatever processes you have for gathering client information, at the very least, you need to discuss the following details so that you may include them in a basic photography services contract:

☐ Parties to the contract

  • Photographer – personally or business entity?
  • Bride & Groom – jointly, jointly & severally, or one individually?

☐   Event type (wedding, engagement shoot, lifestyle shoot, portrait)

☐   Date (what happens if changes are necessary?)

☐   Where (if no location designated at the time, limitation on how far you will you travel, how will extra miles be charged? What if changes are necessary?)

☐   Price – how much? (what the price includes and how are extras charged?)

☐   Services (details necessary)

☐   Refund Policy (circumstances, amount, timing)

☐   Products to deliver (how many pictures minimum? online proofs? CDs? Album? Details necessary)

☐   Hours included (when does clock start? How additional hours are calculated and priced?)

☐   How many photographers? (Who? What if that person can’t make it?)

☐   Payment terms (Amount. Type of payment accepted. What if there’s a problem?)

☐   Cancellation Policy (what happens with paid amounts? Different treatment based on reason for cancellation?)

☐   Changes (when and how much the parties should e notified? Charges for changes? What if change is a new date and you are booked?)

☐   Your other expectations (Food. Lodging. Travel.)

☐   Intellectual Property (Photographer owns copyright; License use to client for personal use only; Permission to use for other purposes required in writing? Requirements for social media sharing? Limits on photographer’s use of photographs?)

☐   Dispute Resolution (How should disputes be resolved?)

☐   Failure to Perform (What happens if either side fails to perform?)

☐   Insurance Requirements

☐   What if you lose the photos?

☐   Disclaimers


The devils’ in the details so the more contingencies you can address in the photography contract, the more useful it will be. The best time to plan for contingencies and what to do if things fall apart is when you and your client are in the honeymoon phase. Most of the time things will go smoothly, but in the off-chance that they don’t, you’ve both laid out the rules of engagement.  If a dispute does arise, then it is a breach of contract.

I had my wedding pictures taken by a professional photographer and you should have your photography contract reviewed by an attorney. If you would like to speak to a California business attorney contact me or call (949) 529-0007.

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In: Contracts

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